Hon. John C. Gastelum See Rating Details
Superior Court
Orange County
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Attorney Average Rating:   4.7 - 12 rating(s)
Non-Attorney Average Rating:   - 0 rating(s)
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Only items marked with (*) are averaged into the displayed overall rating.

General Rating Criteria

* Temperament (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
* Scholarship (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
* Industriousness (1=Not at all industrious,10=Highly industrious)
* Ability to Handle Complex Litigation (1=Awful,10=Excellent)
* Punctuality (1=Chronically Late,10=Always on Time)
* General Ability to Handle Pre-Trial Matters (1=Not all Able, 10=Extremely Able)
* General Ability as a Trial Judge (1=Not all Able, 10=Extremely Able)
Flexibility In Scheduling (1=Completely Inflexible,10=Very Flexible)

Criminal Rating Criteria (if applicable)

* Evenhandedness in Criminal Litigation (1=Demonstrates Bias,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
General Inclination Regarding Bail (1=Pro-Defense,10=Pro-Government)
Involvement in Plea Discussions (1=Not at all Involved, 10=Very Involved)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Pretrial Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Trial Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)
General Inclination in Criminal Cases Sentencing Stage (1=Pro-prosecution,10=Pro-defense)

Civil Rating Criteria (if applicable)

* Evenhandedness in Civil Litigation (1=Not at all Evenhanded,10=Entirely Evenhanded)
Involvement in Settlement Discussions (1=Not at all Involved,10=Very Involved)
General Inclination (1=Pro-defendant, 10=Pro-plaintiff)

What others have said about Hon. John C. Gastelum


Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA11522
Not at all thrilled by this one. He's an automatic 170.6 if you end up in the trial pool and your assigned Department sends the case for trial in his department, 170.6 him. Don't even bother otherwise as you'll hate trying this case in front of him.

If your client is big-business, insurance, bank, or some other interest like that, they will get a good shake out of him. Sometimes he's fair if there's a couple of Joes battling it out. Does do some bending over backwards for pro se litigants which is a redeeming quality.

OC's trial management system is a trailing system so you have to hang around for days waiting for the call. In the old days they made you sit in the cafeteria all day, now they tell you to be an hour or so away and ready to go immediately. OC's court reservation system has put a small end to this judge's cancelling long-set hearings. But ex parte's are often cancelled with a ruling from chambers if you get one.

He's not rude to people, but I do not see him being very even-handed. I've won some and lost some in front of him, but trial and hearings requiring evidence is another issue. Evidence is dicey with him. He'll keep out relevant stuff, and admit hearsay. So you have to paper him in. He hates that but its brought on by his own rulings.

Any significant hearings? You better bring a court reporter.

My experience is run in the opposite direction.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA10940
Rating:Not Rated
He is a dummie. Don't believe he ever practiced as an attorney and fakes it all. Hope he has a good clerk in the back because this fellow is a moron. 170.6.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA10535
Do an immediate 170.6. Ex partes and noticed motions are often cancelled or continued short notice with no hearing. You will rarely know why or be able to have input on if they are continued or when they are rescheduled. You will often not be able to get in front of him at all for months, regardless of what you may file.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA10272
If you end up in his division, 170.6 him. Nuff said.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA9866
I am not a fan. In pre-trial matters he is OK. But in trial he is awful. Does not understand the rules of evidence at all. For example he continually let in hearsay evidence under objection because he said the evidence was just to show "what happened next." How is that a hearsay exception? Then he allowed opposing counsel to bring in an "impeachment" witness. Their impeachment witness was someone who simply contradicted my client's version of events. It was an awful experience. I would paper him if you know you might end up in trial in front of him.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA7627
If he knows he's likely to be appealed, he pays closer attention. If he doesn't think it will go up on appeal, he rules whichever way he wants.

Seems to have problems recognizing the finer distinctions in some cases. Missed a huge section in cited precedent which repeatedly invoked the legislature's express intent which also specifically overruled trial court discretion and cases once approving of that.

Also may lean heavily on research staff to rule, rather than him actually ruling on matters.

Rarely ever changes tentatives, even when its pointed out he's wrong with statutory and precedential citations.

On the other hand, he's not an angry judge or a joker on the bench. More like poker faced.

He has great potential for judicial scholarship though I think its wasted at times.

Overall I think the nature of the job may have jaded him rather than his legal skills. Like I said, he has great potential but seems to me it goes wasted.

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Comment #: CA7533
Rating:Not Rated
The dude is lazy and dumb. Sorry but he is certainly not marvelous.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA7407
Judge Gastelum is an outstanding jurist. His Court of Appeal days as a research attorney aids him in being an excellent jurist. I have not seen him step beyond the law. Although I did not prevail in his Courtroom, I would welcome the opportunity to be in front of him, again.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA7216
Lazy. Rarely changes tentative ruling. Paper this judge.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA5951
You have to reserve a hearing date months in advance to get on long motion calendar. The only way around that is to notice an ex parte application to set it sooner.

He often cancels ex parte's and in highly contested matters, either takes under submission without argument, or palms your case off to another SC judge.

Maybe he's better suited to the appellate bench where he doesn't have to hear argument or take evidence. I don't know. Its hard to gauge him because so far all I have gotten is pro tems and substitute judges. Might as well 170.6 this chap before he gets to first base on your case.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4616
A review of this judge's work product from 2013 reveals that he is an extraordinarily industrious and precise legal jurist, while simultaneously writing with a creative flair that is a pleasure to read.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4271
Not a scholarly judge, and he plays favorites.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA4207
I found Judge Gastelum to be incapable of understanding basic concepts like statutes of limitations and judicial admissions. He seems to be a decent fellow, but he would be more suited to small claims court than the civil unlimited panel.

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA2601
Rating:Not Rated
Painfully slow to rule on submitted matters....

Civil Litigation - Private

Comment #: CA2505
Well prepared, seems to read everything and has an agreeable demeanor. Issues detailed and thoughtful tentative rulings on l/m but will still hear you out.